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President Ammons Honors Faculty for Research Excellence With Caring
Bidhan Saha (second on right) received the 2012 Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award.  President James H. Ammons (right), K. Redda (left) and Provost Larry Robinson congratulates Saha.

May 16, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.
– Every year faculty at Florida A&M University (FAMU) leave campus laboratories and libraries to attend the Researcher of the Year Awards Luncheon. It is the only event held on campus where faculty members gather in anticipation to find out who among them will be honored for their outstanding research accomplishments. This year was no different as President James Ammons recognized five principal investigators in three award categories—Distinguished Researcher, Research Excellence, and Emerging Researcher. 

“The Researcher of the Year Awards are indicative of the ground-breaking and innovative research that takes place at Florida A&M University each year,” said President Ammons.  

The five professors, who received a plaque and a monetary award for demonstrating “research excellence with caring” (the event theme) during the 2011-2012 academic year, are as follows:
  • Bidhan Saha, a physics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received top honors and $5000 as the Distinguished Researcher of the Year. His research on X-ray emissions from comets and other astrological objects may provide a powerful device for monitoring space weather from inside the solar system, which would rid the need for spacecraft to circle the sun.
“It is my distinct honor to be the 2012 Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award recipient at Florida A&M University,” said Saha. “My work is a tiny grain in the vast ocean of (the) physics world. Atomic and molecular collisions are ubiquitous in nature, but their studies still remain challenging in spite of the availability of modern supercomputers.”
  • Violetka Colova, a professor of viticulture and development biology in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, received $3,000 as a Research Excellence Award recipient. Her research focuses on improving the nutritional and health benefits of American native grapes through the integration of agricultural and medical biotechnology with molecular farming.
  • Lewis Elgin Johnson, a physics associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, received $3,000 as a Research Excellence Award recipient. Lewis started the Laser Remote Sensing Laboratory at FAMU to study the physics and technology of remote and/or rapid sensing techniques. The technology is useful in several areas, such as homeland security and terrorist threat analysis, agriculture, environmental monitoring, nuclear proliferation monitoring, and public health.
  • Hong Xiao, a professor and director of the Division of Economic, Social and Administrative Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $3,000 as a Research Excellence Award recipient. Her research focuses on health disparities in terms of access and utilization of health care, patient education and self-management of disease.
  • Ramesh Katam, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, received $2,000 as the Emerging Researcher of the Year. His research focus has included determining biomarkers for prostate cancer and strengthening developmental biology research at FAMU to enhance muscadine grape berry quality.
Xiao has been a professor at FAMU for more than 10 years. Three years ago, when she became director of the Division of Economic, Social and Administrative Pharmacy, she spearheaded the development of the doctoral program in health outcomes and pharmacoeconomics in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“Receiving the Research Excellence Award means a lot to me because research is definitely my passion,” said Xiao. “I feel like my hard work has paid off and I will use this accomplishment as an impetus to facilitate new studies and to train our graduate students to become future researchers.”

The FAMU Faculty Senate sanctioned the Researcher of the Year Awards (formerly named the Institutional Researcher Awards) in 2010. Since then, 19 faculty members have been recognized, including this year’s awardees.  Nominee recommendations are submitted to the Office of the Faculty Senate before a multidisciplinary committee makes a final decision.

“This occasion gives us an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all investigators and give a reward to a few selected ones…so they may receive public recognition for their outstanding research accomplishments, hard work and sustained efforts,” said K. Ken Redda, professor and acting vice president for research.

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